Tri-City Americans

Americans open Friday in Calgary

The Tri-City Americans will only get a day or two to enjoy their first Western Conference title before locking horns with the Calgary Hitmen in the 2010 Western Hockey League championship series.

The Americans, playing for their first Ed Chynoweth Cup, will open the best-of-7 series with the Hitmen on Friday at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary. They will play Game 2 in Calgary on Saturday before the series shifts to Toyota Center for Games 3 and 4 on May 4 and 5.

If necessary, Game 5 will be May 7 at Calgary, and Game 6 on May 9 in Kennewick.

The series, which has a 2-2-1-1-1 format, could end May 10 in Calgary with Game 7.

"There was a discussion with both general managers and myself and (the format) was agreed upon," said WHL vice president Rick Doerksen. "I think had the teams been a little bit farther apart, it may have been 2-3-2. But they both thought it was workable."

The winner of the Ed Chynoweth Cup will advance to the Memorial Cup in Brandon, Manitoba, on May 14-23.

Tri-City, which has won three straight U.S. Division titles, advanced to the WHL finals with a 4-2 series win over the Vancouver Giants in the Western Conference finals.

Calgary, winner of the Central Division and Scotty Munro trophy for the best regular-season record, defeated Memorial Cup host Brandon 4-1 in the Eastern Conference finals.

"It's not often you get two regular-season winners meeting in the league championship," Doerksen said. "Both have good goaltenders who were their series MVPs, both teams can score and both play entertaining hockey. I think it will be an entertaining series for fans in both cities."

Tri-City goaltender Drew Owsley was named WHL player of the week after backing the Americans to three victories over Vancouver last week.

Owsley, who also has been nominated for CHL goaltender of the week, was 3-1 against the Giants, stopping 124 of 132 shots for a 1.97 goals against average and a .939 save percentage.